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To begin training your mind to concentrate, Goleman recom-
mends a technique called inner focus. Begin with your most
immediate surroundings: your body.
Reconnecting with your body, its relation to the world, and its
way of moving is the first step to developing concentration.
For Goleman, sharpening your sense of concentration is
somewhat primal. It begins with the body, with your five senses.
To recognize your body’s cues, you have to spend time feeling
and listening to them. Ask yourself: Am I hungry? Am I cold? Am
I tired? When you practice asking questions and listening to your
responses, you are learning to attune to the clues your body
gives you about more intangible concerns as well. Am I sad? Am
I uncomfortable? Am I angry? Giving attention to the messages
of the body helps guide you and enhances your sense of self-
The second principle of inner focus is learning to see yourself
through the eyes of others. A group of patients was asked to lis-
ten to and evaluate a recording of 10 surgeons’ voices without
knowing anything about them. Half of the surgeons had been
sued for malpractice, but none of the patients knew that. Yet the
voices of these same surgeons were consistently identified by
the patients as sounding threatening and uncaring, while the
others were not. The study suggests that the patients were at-
tuned to something the surgeons were not aware of about them-
selves. As Goleman points out, if you can learn to imagine the
perspective of another, to see how they see you, even for a few
moments, you can learn much about your own blind spots.
The third principle of inner focus is self-control. One well-
known experiment invited 4-year-olds into a clean room with no
other people or distractions β€” except for a marshmallow that
was set down before them. They were told that if they ate the
marshmallow right away, there would be no more. But if they
waited 15 minutes before eating the marshmallow, they would be
rewarded with extras. The study found that children who waited
scored higher on tests that measured attention, suggesting that
attention and willpower are strongly linked. To fight off temp-
tation, powerful skills of self-regulation must be employed β€”
and this takes concentration. The more you practice self-
discipline, the more self-discipline you will have at your disposal.
You will also strengthen your ability to focus.

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